How To Core And Chop Lettuce


Some people swear by ceramic or plastic knives for cutting lettuce. The idea is that metal knives cause the leaves to turn brown at the edges faster. Actually, it’s not the metal that does it. What happens is any cutting will cut cells, which then turn brown. If you want your lettuce to last longer don’t cut it. Rip the leaves by hand.

I usually don’t see the problem, though. When I buy lettuce, I have salad at every meal until it’s gone.


First up, the core. You can cut this out if you really want to. But it’s way easier this way:

Set the bottom — the side you just pulled the core out of — down and cut it in half.

Then in quarters.

You could stop now and serve what the trendy restaurants are calling a “wedge salad”.

If you haven’t seen it they literally take those wedges you see above and pour some dressing over it. Yeah, that’s a salad. Okay.

But for normal people who aren’t trying to impress anyone, it’s better to do just a little more work and get the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. So put one half — two quarters — down flat, start at one end, and chop about an inch wide all the way across.

And that’s it.


  1. Hey Drew,
    Great post on the lettuce. That is almost how the professional chefs do it, but I think they chop the lettuce holding it in their hands… hard to explain if you haven’t seen it.

    I wouldn’t recommend doing that yourself though without training since you will slice your hand open probably. As my friend did at work once…

    I wish I thought to post all these simple how to things, it is such a good idea and so simple!!



  2. Annissa says:

    When I started working as a waitress, I was shocked to see the kitchen guys laboriously hacking away at the heads of lettuce to remove the cores. They were much relieved when I taught them this trick!

  3. Annissa, were they embarrassed that a waitress was teaching them how to cook? :-)

  4. kookmetmij says:

    Ok, I just love this trick and am going to use it in front of anyone who can see it and pretend like I’m doing this always and for years…. hehehe…thanks 😉 How do you come up with this???

  5. I worked at a restaurant in college. Since we did mostly sandwiches, we went through a lot of lettuce.

  6. Anonymous says:

    To remove a little more of the “bitter stuff”, using a $2.25 bulb planter tool from Wal-Mart is another option.

  7. Anon, that’s a great trick. I especially love the “Why is that in your kitchen?” factor of it.

  8. Drew,

    I was always told that metal causes lettuce to brown quickly and that you should always use a plastic lettuce knife. I have purchased one and it works just fine to cut the lettuce but haven’t noticed a big difference in the lettuce not browning. Have you heard about this technique? Thanks for all the great recipes and techniques. I think I will have to try the sweet onion sauce with ribs this weekend. KD

  9. Krista, the explanation I’ve heard that makes most sense is that when you tear lettuce, it divides along the cell walls. When you cut it, you are cutting through the cell walls. And it’s the damaged cells that allow oxidation to start.

    So the rule of thumb was: Don’t cut lettuce, tear it by hand. And somewhere along the way, someone got the idea that it was the metal that caused the browning.

  10. We have always just bought the bag of salad mix off the shelf. I bought all fresh veggies and chopped my own lettuce for the first time. Hey, celebrate the small victories, right? The core trick worked great. Thanks for the blog.


  1. […] Quick and easy. Picked this up working at the restaurant in college. […]

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